After a truly epic journey (London to Paris by Eurostar, followed by a 21-hour flight from Paris to Tahiti via Los Angeles), anyone would be excused for needing a bit of downtime. My first port of call on the island was Le Tahiti Pearl Resort, some 10 minutes’ drive from the capital, Papeete, where incidentally you can find some truly wonderful black pearls and – even more surprising – black pearl bargains in the market.
Here, as with much of Tahiti, the sand is volcanic black basalt and it’s a peaceful spot with extraordinary views. The green hills drop into a deep blue lagoon and the saw-toothed peaks of the neighbouring island of Moorea are clearly visible, often wreathed in low clouds, the tops piercing through them.
There was the beach, the pool, the lagoon itself and they were all enticing but, after that journey, I needed some serious aftercare and booked myself in with Evy in Le Spa.
Before any treatments began, she took me to the sauna to sweat out the toxins (and let’s face it, after that journey there were probably plenty of them) and open the pores.
Dressed in a rather lovely green pareo (Tahitian sarong) I managed about 10 minutes of this rather than the 30 she had in mind and sloped off for a quick tisane in the relaxation room that opens out into a pretty water garden and overlooks the lagoon. Then it was time for a quick shower and the first treatment.
Evy took me into a rather curious room – there were two beds each with four bendy pipes with shower heads suspended above them. As I lay down on the first one, my body scrub began (local black sand blended with my choice of oil. I opted for frangipani which, along with monoi, gardenia, is the scent of these islands).
So, obviously it smelled divine and I could feel the sand definitely doing its job. It’s scratchy stuff, volcanic sand. Then the showers were turned on and I was hosed down leaving the softest, smoothest skin.
Once I’ve dried off, I move to the second bed, and discover it is covered in a thin sheet of plastic. I sit on the edge while Evy paints my back with fresh papaya (known as pawpaw in these parts). It really is just the mashed-up, fresh fruit and it will naturally exfoliate and nourish my skin with vitamins, softening it still further. Papaya is highly though of here. In fact, it’s the first food given to babies as it’s believed to be perfect for their delicate digestive systems.
I am gradually covered in the stuff (even including my neck and most of my face), then wrapped up in the plastic sheet which is, in turn, topped up with that ever-useful pareo and, after a scalp massage, I’m left to cook for 15 minutes. Then, it’s time to be hosed down again, after which I get dry and don my trusty pareo, and head off to the next room for my massage.
By this time, my skin is ready to absorb as much oil as possible – especially after that long dehydrating flight. Again, I’ve chosen that blissful frangipani scented oil and with the long strokes, circling movements around the knots (and, as I said, there are not surprisingly plenty of them) everything dissolves without any fierce pummelling or grinding. It’s gentle but effective – just the restorative that’s required.
Afterwards I stagger off back to sip peppermint tea in the tisanerie and gaze at that extraordinary silhouette of Moorea’s dizzying peaks in the sunset. I’m soaked in frangipani, the true perfume of Polynesia, and it’s the beginning of that unravelling of the senses that is the promise of Tahiti. Paradise found. Sigh.
For more information about Le Tahiti by Pearl Resorts, including details of spa packages, please visit www.letahiti.com.